Asking for it

17 11 2011

The Ask by Sam Lipsyte

Milo Burke – husband to a ‘touched-out’ wife, father to a three-year-old son, fund-raising officer at a third-tier university – has just joined the swelling ranks of the unemployed. As he grasps after odd jobs to support his wife and child, Milo is contacted by Purdy Stuart, a wealthy, one-time university friend with a sinister agenda. It is the start of a hilarious and harrowing odyssey through several degrees of peculiarly 21st-century hell– a journey recorded by Milo with the caustic eloquence that is his only means of defence. The Ask is the best book yet from one of America’s finest comic writers, an author who can prompt Chuck Palahniuk to write: ‘I laughed out loud – and I never laugh out loud’. A critical sensation on both sides of the Atlantic, this is a ridiculously accomplished, ridiculously entertaining novel that sympathises even as it skewers.

I was hoping this would be a caustic campus novel. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to find there is little university-related entertainment here. Actually there is precious little entertainment anywhere to be found. It’s all just a bit unpleasant really. And not terribly comic at all.

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